Mozilla to drop IRC as main communications platform - gHacks Tech News

Mozilla to drop IRC as main communications platform

Mozilla plans to drop IRC as a main communications platform and the server infrastructure that powers IRC.mozilla.org in the coming months.

One of the better ways to reach out to Mozilla and to talk about Mozilla products such as Firefox is IRC. Internet Relay Chat is accessible using modern browsers but also with the help of standalone IRC clients.

IRC may look ancient to the modern eye but it is a long standing communications platform with a loyal following.

via https://xkcd.com/1782/

Mozilla employee Mike Hoye, charged with finding a new communications product and retiring IRC, revealed on April 26, 2019 that Mozilla will drop IRC as a communications platform. Hoye acknowledges that IRC has been Mozilla's "main synchronous communications tool since the beginning". On the downside, Hoye argues that IRC has aged badly and that the chance of things getting better is slim to non-existent.

He notes that abuse and harassment has been experienced by colleagues and that it is difficult from a technical perspective to connect to IRC.

We’ve come to the conclusion that for all IRC’s utility, it’s irresponsible of us to ask our people – employees, volunteers, partners or anyone else – to work in an environment that we can’t make sure is healthy, safe and productive.

All of that, and the fact that IRC is not accessible from "inside schools, colleges, or corporate networks" led to the decision to drop IRC as a communications platform.

Mozilla has not decided on a new platform for synchronous text communication. Hoyes reveals that there are several candidates that could replace IRC, and that candidates have to meet Mozilla's selection requirements:

  • Must be a product by another company or organization.
  • Self-hosted or pay for a service.
  • Needs to be accessible.
  • Needs to be a product, not a protocol.
  • Must be a proven, modern service.
  • Must support authentication because Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines will be enforced.

Time-wise, Mozilla plans to pick a candidate in the coming months and decommission irc.mozilla.org soon thereafter. All of that is likely going to happen this year.

Closing Words

It appears, that the decision is not based on expenses or maintenance of the IRC infrastructure. While these could play a role as well, it is clear that the focus of Hoye's blog post is authentication and as a byproduct the enforcement of Mozilla's Community Participation Guidelines.

The new communications product has not been selected yet; it will be interesting to see if Mozilla will pick a proprietary product or select an open solution instead.

Now You: What is your take on Mozilla's decision?

Summary
Mozilla to drop IRC as main communications platform
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Mozilla to drop IRC as main communications platform
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Mozilla plans to drop IRC as a main communications platform and the server infrastructure that powers IRC.mozilla.org in the coming months.
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Comments

  1. user17843 said on April 28, 2019 at 8:25 pm
    Reply

    As I do not use IRC it’s hard to know for sure what motivates Mozilla to stop using it.

    It’s probably a combination of factors, but the article makes it sound like the biggest problem is the lack of direct control Mozilla has over the users joining such channels.

    The way I see it, is that more and more people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the leadership. There’s only two ways to react in that case:

    – abandon the project and go somehwere else (probably what the majority is doing)
    – stay and voice your concerns (lots of work)

    Those who voice there concern are sometimes not very polite, and it’s probably tiring to read the same stuff over and over again when you just want to develop your browser your own politically correct way and can not be bothered by real people using your product.

    r/firefox for example is already heavily censored to make it possible for the hardcore fans to live in peace and harmony without being scared by critical thinkers.

    So they will probably chose a product that makes moderation very easy and fast, which ironically means it will probably be a closed-source proprietary product.

  2. user17843 said on April 28, 2019 at 8:32 pm
    Reply

    Personally if I was Mozilla I would probably chose self-hosting a Mattermost instance.

  3. Alex said on April 28, 2019 at 9:59 pm
    Reply

    Oh no, the bad mean internet protocol is not “safe” or “healthy” for their employees. Poor little babbys. How could this browser company ever launch their fake news initiative if they don’t take care of the things that matter, like chat protocols that provide a safe environment for their employees? I’ll rest in peace knowing that Mozilla is watching out for me even though they think the internet protocol I used as a 14 year old is not safe for their adult employees.

    1. crambie said on April 28, 2019 at 10:58 pm
      Reply

      That’s the other way Mozilla aren’t the company of old and again not in a good way. You have to agree with them or else, modern pseudo liberals.

      I don’t understand the part about IRC is difficult to connect to, who finds it difficult?

      1. Yuliya said on April 29, 2019 at 9:48 am
        Reply

        >I don’t understand the part about IRC is difficult to connect to, who finds it difficult?
        Generation Z. I know people born in 2000 who, sadly, don’t know what IRC is. Technically those people are able to legally work right now.
        A developer who dosesn’t know how to use IRC? Yeah, sounds like the kind of “developers” moz://a would hire nowadays. No wonder the browser is in the deplorable state which is today. Weirdly enough, they are able to implement telemetry, I just can’t explain it… I guess they also believe noone else is able to use IRC so they must literally steal people’s data in order to troubleshoot their own spaghetti code.

    2. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 3:52 am
      Reply

      What a stupid argument. As a 14year old I used Kazaa for file and document sharing. Even though it worked and nothing bad happened to me or my computer, I still wouldn’t say it is safe anymore or would suggest companys to use it. I know, the one thing is a program the other a protocol, but your logic is the same.
      So Alex, (you are not 14 anymore, your comment suggests you are 15 now) please let the world evolve.

    3. Jason said on May 2, 2019 at 5:26 pm
      Reply

      Alex, you beat me to it. It’s reached the point where we can pick out the ideological catchwords without any difficulty. The word “safe” is being thrown all around the corporate world these days. It was introduced by young university graduates as they started moving into the workplace, but over time it has been adopted by older people who ought to know better.

      For the uninitiated, let me explain that “safe” in this case does not mean safe. It stems from an absurd sociological theory that victim groups (however they may be defined) experience a form of physical assault when they encounter words or images that they personally find offensive. There’s a whole literature on “microaggressions” if anyone wants to fry some superfluous brain cells. The architects of this theory want to purify the world of all uncomfortable thoughts so that the innocents can be saved.

      So here we have Mozilla – a company once known for the cutting edge creativity of its intelligent employees – now adopting the mindless rhetoric of a pseudo-scientific political ideology, and using that rhetoric as part of their reasoning for abandoning a minor piece of technology. What progress.

    4. New Tobin Paradigm said on May 3, 2019 at 8:08 pm
      Reply

      They need their safe space where they can’t be challenged with facts and opinions.

  4. gloom said on April 28, 2019 at 10:04 pm
    Reply

    I’m surprised they just don’t move to Discord. Seems like it would be more the modern Mozilla’s speed.

    1. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 10:54 am
      Reply

      Discord is not very privacy friendly and it is close source.

      1. Boomerang Kid said on May 7, 2019 at 1:24 am
        Reply

        Mozilla is not privacy friendly either, so this will be right up their alley, hahaha.

  5. OneGuy said on April 28, 2019 at 10:12 pm
    Reply

    I didn’t even know Mozilla still used IRC and haven’t been on their network but these problems all seem easily fixable. Make users register and verify their names before being able to speak. They could make the process as easy or complicated as any other service. And to access IRC in schools, there’s plenty of web gateways or they could make their own. Whatever they choose probably won’t be as open as IRC.

  6. park bum said on April 28, 2019 at 10:40 pm
    Reply

    Who cares what they use for comms. As Martin politely sums up, its all about identifying and punishing anyone with an alternate opinion to their mob group think. Diversity doesn’t apply to thought. Can’t wait for mozilla to finally implode or for ff to fork off.

  7. Nebulus said on April 28, 2019 at 10:59 pm
    Reply

    The justification about the “healthy, safe and productive” environment or lack thereof in relation to IRC is one of the most retarded reasons I have ever heard in my life.

  8. PC EliTiST said on April 28, 2019 at 11:53 pm
    Reply

    Irc was my client. Learnt about it when I was in Germany for a few months, basically over a year and neddless to say with how many Greek girls I made a serious relationship.Than god for that Client; especially since I couldn’t speak german but in Muenchen thankfully there are many Greeks. It was my savior. Meanwhile there was a script that those girls didn’t have a clue. I could give them a link to press and I could see whatever they were writing and with whom. Those were the days.

    On the other hand, we were playing irc wars. We were writing scripts as fast as we could in order to keep the other guy out of the channel ( e.g x kicked y bla bla reason ).

    P.S. By the way, the XKCD comic top-notch. Extremely funny.

  9. flotsam said on April 29, 2019 at 12:14 am
    Reply

    A couple of the commenters above are prime examples of why Mozilla is making this move.

    1. Lord-Lestat said on April 29, 2019 at 9:56 am
      Reply

      Funny how people defend this Google-dependent, anti-free-speech/antidemocratic Mozilla who sold their advanced add-on creators, theme-creators and power-users for simple/Chrome users, the Mozilla which has nothing to do anymore with their glorious roots, the one which implemented DRM, stumbles from one public relation disaster to the next, the Mozilla which also is leaning to the leftist Anti-Conservatives opinion!

      Supportive comments like that above are the prime example why people are turning away from that fake-Mozilla organization which has nothing at all in common with their glorious roots and these days only has a couple of die-hard supporters who defend all of their moves, no matter how ridiculous the moves are.

  10. Anonee said on April 29, 2019 at 12:23 am
    Reply

    Yeah, the fact that they were still using the outdated IRC was stupid.
    They really should just move to Discord now – that would be amazing!

    1. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 10:57 am
      Reply

      Discord is not privacy friendly and it is close source.

  11. Behemoth said on April 29, 2019 at 2:07 am
    Reply

    I guess they’ll anyway choose the Discord.

    1. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 10:58 am
      Reply

      Let’s hope they will not choose the Discord, because Discord is not privacy friendly and it is close source.

  12. Plugh said on April 29, 2019 at 5:07 am
    Reply

    Maybe Slack? Can still connect to it using an IRC client.

  13. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 5:29 am
    Reply
  14. Lambo-san said on April 29, 2019 at 6:53 am
    Reply

    I think today’s IRC is called Discord. I know it’s not the same, the platforms are only slightly similar and IRC probably gives more freedom and whatever. I also used a little IRC and ICQ around 2007 when I was still fresh on the internet.

    But now Discord is like modern IRC – it supports accounts with avatars, animated avatars, account linking, it makes images and news articles appear as a thumbnail in the chat… it’s really convenient. It started off as a gamers chat platform, but now it’s much more than that. There is a Discord server for pretty much anything, just like how there is a subreddit for pretty much anything.

  15. pndy said on April 29, 2019 at 8:25 am
    Reply

    I think it’s safe to say that IRC will be still here after Mozilla will be shut down due to poor decisions of special snowflakes who are killing the company, organization and the flagship project.

    Unless that’s the goal here and they’re doing dirty inside job for Google and Chrome.

  16. Anonymous said on April 29, 2019 at 11:27 am
    Reply

    Mozilla is looking for tools that are more powerful to censor disagreement, and if this means going proprietary, so be it. The more unpopular their actions are going to be, the more censorship they’re going to need.

    This is exactly the type of comment that they like to remove on communication channels they control, and this is obviously neither “abuse” nor “harassment”.

    1. user17843 said on April 29, 2019 at 12:03 pm
      Reply

      I think they have every right to living in their own world.

      Where things get problematic is when mozilla starts to insist that they are on my side, and on the side of freedom. That is the point where things become political, and it is my duty to participate in the discussion to highlight the flaws of that argument.

      Otherwise I could care less, but this hypocrisy is probably what attracts many critics.

      If they want to stop being bombarded by criticism online they simply need to drop the “we are the saviors of the web” attitude, it’s that simple. Either that, or start really walking the talk, and saving the web with making good decisions, like supporting the open, decentralized web.

      The ironic fact is that during the last years when Mozilla employees started to feel bad being on IRC, because the environment was not a safe space (and also because IRC is old and not productive), so they all silently retreated to their private Slack channels (which makes it possible to get work done), while Mozilla still kept up the IRC servers, which unfortunately started getting flooded with critics and toxicity, because the native mozilla employees stopped being there.

      So now they have the situation that no one really uses their IRC channels anymore, and everything relevant for Moz Corp is going on inside their private Slack channels.

      So what do they do? They want to stop hosting a service that is being abused in their eyes, but they want to continue offering something that is more open than their own private slack channels.

      So they need to come up with something centrally managed where they can control everything, but something that is open enough so that everyone in the world can use it with basic hardware and software.

      At the same time, they don’t want to invest much work and money in this, because as I said, the relevant work has already been going on in their private Slack channels for years.

      They don’t want to invest into moderating IRC, so they will chose a software where a single mod can control all channels, with powerful blocking methods and authorization that makes it very difficult to register with multiple accounts.

      Depricating IRC is just a way to get rid of the open platform, because the criticism they face gets too much, and too stressful for the lower level employees (which is understandable, we need to hold the management accountable, not the lower level employees).

      Back in the days when a rogue mozilla employee started the https://thetruthaboutmozilla.wordpress.com/about/ blog, which actually prompted Mozilla founder Mitchell Baker to call her own blog “Lizard Wrangler”, there was still a lively dynamic within the company, but the internal critics have since all left the company, unfortunately.

      1. Lord-Lestat said on April 29, 2019 at 12:37 pm
        Reply

        @user17843 and that is the point actually.

        They want to retreat to a gender-correct safe-space environment where they are fully able to force their “code of conduct” – with the inevitable result of – limiting what is said, limiting was is allowed to criticize – where only that is allowed what is valid in the mind of the one’s who are in control. IRC is fundamentally different to a concept of for example Slack or Discord – IRC is to a certain degree anarchy – free spirited – and fully free speech.

        Why does Mozilla that? Because they have lost since a long time their touch to reality and to their old dedicated users. Guess what? Even on Mozillazine the tides have turned to a certain degree. Or ask the Waterfox/Seamonkey/Pale Moon/ex-Cyberfox crowd – In earlier days it was much more simple to take the Mozilla code-base and create something out of it than it is today – as the once open Mozilla has also made a full u-turn against everything possible spin-off related.

        Mozilla has lost touch to their old true spirit, the users they have been supporting in the past, the policy regarding not-mainstream features/add-ons/themes and they started to fully turn against everything free-speech and everything related towards Christians/Conservative.

        So, their move to a more restricted, limited communication resource which allows more censorship… sorry.. “control of the content which is allowed to talk about” – is just another example of Mozilla fully wanting to retreat to their ivory-tower! Pretty sad to see a once fully open organization becoming more and more locked up. And why? Because they are turning intentionally away from all what is different and open in any kind of way!

        If there is anything which shows that old respectable and honorable Mozilla has fully died away, then it is this!

      2. Jason said on May 2, 2019 at 5:44 pm
        Reply

        I wrote a comment on another thread above (responding to Alex) about the word “safe”. But your discussion brings up a related issue for me: notice that the ultimate consequence of Mozilla’s use of neo-marxist language is that *corporate control is enhanced*, in the most right wing of traditions.

        There’s an excellent Spectator article that discusses this phenomenon at https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/03/the-woke-corporation-how-campus-madness-entered-the-workplace.

        (Martin, I hope you don’t mind me posting a link. It’s a good site and I don’t think that particular article is behind a paywall.)

  17. Allen said on April 29, 2019 at 1:21 pm
    Reply

    Translation: “We must use something that allows us to keep people under our thumb. (we must tighten our grip on our shrinking user base)”

  18. Ascrod said on April 29, 2019 at 2:43 pm
    Reply

    If authentication really is the issue:
    Automatically set user modes to +r so that only registered users can message them.
    Automatically set channel modes to +R so that only registered users can join them.
    Depending on the server, you might also be able to require user authentication/passwords before even connecting.

    If a lack of modern features is the issue, they could have worked with the IRCv3 group (which has been around since 2012) to come up with and implement new specifications. They also could have set up a web client, which many other modern IRC server operators offer, for greater accessibility.

  19. khai said on April 29, 2019 at 9:00 pm
    Reply

    yes … IRC is ancient.

    and yet is still going. why? it’s simple, tough and makes a cockroach look like a beginner.

    ” IRC is not accessible from “inside schools, colleges, or corporate networks””

    wanna bet on that? you really really want to bet on that? …amateur…

  20. Stan said on April 29, 2019 at 9:56 pm
    Reply

    That’s how Cults operate.
    No doubt the last user choice, userChrome/Content customization, won’t be tolerated for much longer

  21. flash said on April 29, 2019 at 11:28 pm
    Reply

    I was wondering pretty much the same thing.

    People have been writing IRC bots and services for decades. One would assume that if Mozilla – a company that has been running their own server infrastructure with all that entails for both internal and external communications over the past two decades – had wanted to improve usability of it, then they would have done so a long time ago. Instead they’re talking about it aging badly and the lack of “safe spaces” to exaggerate somewhat.

    I think the majority of the public reasoning behind the change is pretty disingenuous for one simple reason: IRC is a communication protocol which on its own is not inherently more or less secure than many others. But what it has become over the year is a lot less accessible and this, I claim, Mozilla is at the very least partially responsible for.

    On top of that, IRC does have considerable limitations today, but it’s only natural that a 25+ year old protocol could not compete with competing modern communication technologies like Slack or Discord, to name just two relevant ones. The split/fragmentation of the IRC community and the lack of initiative and development in the past 20 years hasn’t done the protocol any favors. It’s no wonder that the number of active participants on IRC servers in general has fallen steadily.

    I don’t see the move away from the IRC server structure as a big problem, but that’s just one half of the question. What would they replace it with? In my opinion Mozilla would have done well to either develop their own communications technologies (like Microsoft has done with MSN Messenger, Skype, etc) or continue development of an existing open protocol such as IRC or the much more versatile XMPP. While their messenger may have gone the way of others (MSN, AIM), it would have given Mozilla and their developers valuable experience. They certainly could have used it to create a privacy-minded counterpoint against Facebook (in all the Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp guises). That’s getting a bit far off topic now …

  22. majordomo said on May 1, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Reply

    IRC is not outdated. Mozilla has its own servers for IRC.

    They do not want random guys asking questions on their IRC.

    So bye bye “safe, healthy and productive” MOz!lla.

  23. John Ambridge said on May 2, 2019 at 7:11 pm
    Reply

    What can we learn from Mozilla trying to deprecate IRC – and why it stands in direct correlation with the incident over at the new palemoon comments section:

    1) Mozilla moving from an open for all attitude, from a company which supported all opinions towards a company which locks itself up and has excluded a large part of their classic users from day one on purpose and sided against their believes and general opinions and instead fully embracing the opposite which is less caring, less open, less generous and shows little to none understanding and respect for others opinions and their needs!

    2) The majority of these days Mozilla Firefox users do not care for features, customization, options to use one’s creativity to build amazing themes or complex rich add-ons/extensions – they are not like us from the older Amiga/C64/Atari generation who loved to explore, to create, to revolutionize!

    That users are only interested in simple design, privacy features – and what is most important to them… raw speed.

    That users Mozilla has left either migrated as Mozilla wanted to begin with since the Australis version 29 towards Firefox from Chrome – and consists to the other half of the users with simple needs who have been using Firefox already but loathed the “bloated, buggy slow experience” – while in reality none of the problems that kind of users love to mention was present in a overshadowing way – what have both user groups in common is that none of them shows respect to other opinions and interests.

    And in which correlation is this now towards the locked palemoon comment section?

    Most of Mozilla’s current users are as already said less caring, less open, less generous and shows little to none understanding and respect for others opinions – and they despise everything what is the slightest bit different.

    They hate every browser with passion which is not falling into their design-privacy-speed classification. And while we old users never would have gone so low to spread blatant lies – quite a part of that remaining Firefox users see this as a non-issue.

    They picture for example webextensions as flawless technology – while in reality tons of security problems because of it’s complexity are added into the picture as a whole. They do not admit that even that technology can be exploited like it has happened in the past for both Firefox and Chrome. They picture Waterfox or palemoon as fully insecure and full security risk, which is also a blatant and full lie.

    But the most important reason why they hate other browsers.. no matter if they are called Waterfox, Seamonkey, Vivaldi, palemoon, Otter, Falkon, Brave, Qutebrowser, Slimjet… is that all that projects are actively running against that kind of users ideology of how a browser should look and work. They see all that browser projects as hindering stones for Mozilla to reach number one marketshare wise – even if that race is already over, because… sadly Chromium is the big bad winner.

    Mozilla’s users today are the same like Mozilla itself… they are lacking a seriously open mindset which enables you to explore new worlds which are otherwise not to be found. and discovered. In favor of speed and simplicity everything else is willingly sacrificed and everyone or everything which shares a different vision is despised.

    Mozilla and it’s community has been in the past a wonderful and open place. Sadly it is today the opposite. And that is quite a saddening thing to see.

    And it is deeply saddening to see a lot of individuals here falling exactly into this category of users Mozilla is trying to gather since a couple of years – which only deliver spite and hate towards everything else.

  24. Mr.DO! said on May 2, 2019 at 9:38 pm
    Reply

    ok, I’m one of those Amiga guys, but please do NOT create something like “we against them”. So users nowadays want simple interfaces? OK.

    Privacy? There’s almost ZERO, but supportive articles and news sell the product as safe and private. WHICH IS NOT.

    Speed… It’s not the browser the main issue, but heavy sites and everyone’s connection. Again, SELLING a browser engine as faster is just a silly commercial idea and if people agree with that, well, they have been bamboozled!

  25. John Ambridge said on May 2, 2019 at 10:46 pm
    Reply

    Of course not everyone is of that opinion. There are for sure still a lot of Firefox users who are moderate and reasonable.

    But if i compare other browser communities with Mozilla – and if i compare the community of the “old” Mozilla with the “new” one – then “new” Mozilla has the biggest amount of narrow minded and rather aggressive newly collected vocal core users – not even the Chrome community is as bad in my opinion.

    As developer… and especially if you are one already with a crumbling reputation for various serious reasons, this is not something of which one should be proud of. Mozilla has basically given persons like that many incentives to make the switch since Australis. It looks partly as they would invite such over-dedicated and ignorant personalities on purpose. And that is my problem with Mozilla today. And this is something which would have been totally unimaginably many years ago.

    It is one thing if someone tries to argue with a person to make them reconsider in their own opinion. In such a case you deliver facts and points – as that would be the normal civilized thing to do. My problem with the overly aggressive Mozilla crowd today is that many have the opinion of “in your face” or “seek an destroy, no matter which measures have to be used to reach a goal”

    This is first.. no civilized behaviors and second.. totally unacceptable and intolerant against everyone else.

  26. John Ambridge said on May 2, 2019 at 11:02 pm
    Reply

    And that is actually not what is the worst of this never ending drama!

    What really is – sorry to say.. dumb… is the constant “i am the victim so i am allowed to do x against y” mentality or “x does y – which makes me a victim so i am allowed to attack x” which gives a certain part the moral obligation to attack other parties at will.

    Does other browser communities deliver this to the same degree? Brave? Or Waterfox? Or Vivaldi? Seamonkey? Even Chrome guys act to a large degree more friendly, reasonable and not with this constant “I am a victim/i am in war” mindset which gives a certain community part of Mozilla the right to cross borders again and again.

    This is clearly wrong and should be sanctioned instead of supported.

  27. Brian said on May 8, 2019 at 1:53 pm
    Reply

    Blimey, this one really brought out the manchildren didn’t it

  28. Anonymous said on June 7, 2019 at 6:57 pm
    Reply

    At least IRC is free speech and anyone can set up a network – if they put the effort in.

    Discord, not so much.

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